On Love

Alain de Botton, Author
Alain de Botton, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $17 (231p) ISBN 978-0-87113-551-3
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-0-8021-3409-7
Paperback - 194 pages - 978-0-8021-4240-5
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Two words on the cover (``a novel'') are the only hint that this unusual first book is fiction and not autobiography. The unnamed narrator is a London architect who becomes involved with Chloe, a graphic designer. After about a year, Chloe leaves him for an office-mate, and, as a result, the narrator tries (unsuccessfully) to kill himself. Eventually he gets over Chloe and falls in love with someone else. The novel's action is minimal; the balance of the book is given over to the narrator's obsessive analysis of his relationship with Chloe. (There are diagrams--such as the seating chart of the Boeing 767 where they met--that are meant to illustrate various ideas with which the narrator toys.) The book was likely intended as a Barthesian look at that peculiar heart condition called love, but the overblown and pretentious writing obliterates any comparison, peppered as it is with such winking turns-of-phrase as ``cartographic fascism.'' The author is clearly intelligent and well- read; perhaps some day he will put those assets to good literary use. (Nov.)
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